The Theory of Decompression Failure in Polymers During the High-Pressure Processing of Food

  • Julia Sterr
  • Benedikt Stefan Fleckenstein
  • Horst-Christian Langowski
Review Article
  • 60 Downloads

Abstract

The occurrence of blistering and the formation of bubbles in matrices after a sudden pressure drop is a well-known phenomenon in many fields, including in the petroleum industry (“explosive decompression failure”), in diving (decompression sickness), in the infrastructure of hydrogen fuel cells, in the foaming of polymers, and in the high-pressure processing of food. This usually undesirable effect is caused by the increased absorption of gas in the polymer under high-pressure conditions and the subsequent supersaturation and increase in free energy on rapid pressure release. The exact mechanisms of the resulting expansion of gas, and hence the formation of bubbles, are not fully understood. Regarding the high-pressure processing of food where pressures of up to 6000 bar are reached at moderate temperatures, little information is available about the key factors involved in decompression failure. This review summarizes results and findings from relevant research areas to understand polymer decompression failure. The first part of this review describes the transport properties of gases in polymers under high pressure (sorption and desorption, diffusion coefficient, and permeability coefficient). The second part focuses on damage mechanisms and discusses parameters such as material properties, the nature of the gas, and process conditions (e.g., temperature, decompression rate). Knowledge gaps and proposed research are highlighted.

Keywords

Explosive decompression failure Isostatic pressure Solubility Diffusion coefficient Bubble formation 

Abbreviations

APET

Amorphous polyethylene terephthalate

BD

Bubble density = bubbles/blisters per volume of the matrix

BS

Bubble size, volume or diameter

DCS

Decompression sickness

EPDM

Ethylene propylene diene, M-class

GR

Bubble growth rate

HPP

High-pressure processing

MAP

Modified atmosphere packaging

NBR

Acrylonitrile butadiene rubber

PA11

Polyamide 11

PC

Polycarbonate

PEEK

Poly(ether-ether-ketone)

PE-HD

Polyethylene high density

PE-LD

Polyethylene low density

PET

Polyethylene terephthalate

PGA

Poly(glycolic acid)

PLLA

Poly l-lactic acid

PLG

Copolymer of d,l-lactide and glycolide (varying content)

Pmax

Maximum applied pressure in the system

PMMA

Poly(methyl methacrylate)

PP

Polypropylene

PS

Polystyrene

PSS

Supersaturation pressure

PSU

Polysulfone

PTFE

Polytetrafluorethylene (Teflon)

PVAc or PVA

Poly(vinyl acetate)

PVC

Poly(vinyl chloride)

PVDF

Poly(vinylidene fluoride)

scrCO2

Supercritical carbon dioxide

SRR

Supersaturation ratio

STP

Standard temperature (273 K) and pressure (1.013 bar)

TiO2

Titanium dioxide

Tg

Glass transition temperature

Tm

Melting temperature

VMQ

Vinyl methyl polysiloxane

XDF

Explosive decompression failure

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Technische Universität München, Center of Life and Food Sciences WeihenstephanFreising-WeihenstephanGermany
  2. 2.Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVVFreisingGermany

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